AP Music Theory

AP Music Theory

Course Features

Course Details

Course Overview

This rigorous AP Music Theory course, taught by Ky Hascall, provides students with an in-depth foundation of music theory, including the elements of musical composition. It is an excellent preparation for students desiring a music-related career and for those planning to take the AP Music Theory exam. Course topics include:
  • Music theory foundations
  • Compound Meters and Minor Tonality
  • Intervals, Triads, and Seventh Chords
  • Counterpoint – Connecting Melodic and Harmonic Intervals
  • Establishing the Two-Voice Composition
  • Eighteenth Century Counterpoint
  • Harmonization
  • Tones and Scales
  • Diatonic Sequences
  • Preparing for the AP Test
Acellus AP Music Theory has been audited and approved by the College Board. Acellus AP Music Theory is A-G Approved through the University of California.
This course was developed by the International Academy of Science. Learn More

Scope and Sequence

Unit 1 - Introduction to Music Theory In this introductory unit, students learn about the most essential music theory skills and what to expect in this course. They discuss sight-reading practice, dictation practice, and ear training practice. Unit 2 - Review of Fundamentals I In this unit students review the fundamentals of music. They go over the musical alphabet, the chromatic alphabet, and staff and clef signs. Reviewing meter, they discuss rhythmic values and beat units, time signatures and conducting patterns, and counting systems and metric hierarchy. They go on to study registers and ledger lines, and dynamic and tempo markings, and learn to listen for texture. Unit 3 - Review of Fundamentals II Continuing their review of the fundamentals of music, in this unit students study rhythm, including dots, ties and slurs, syncopation, and hemiola. They review anacrusis notation (pick-ups), chromatic and diatonic pitch collections, ordered pitch-class collections, scales, key signatures - including scale degree names - and identifying duple, triple, and quadruple meters. Unit 4 - Compound Meters and Minor Tonality In this unit students are introduced to compound meter. They learn about syncopation and hemiola, metrical accents, minor scales (parallel and relative), forms of minor, identifying major/minor keys, modes, binary and ternary forms, and vocal forms. Unit 5 - Intervals and Triads In this unit students begin to learn about intervals and triads. They explore combining pitches, interval qualities, augmented and diminished intervals, consonant/dissonant intervals, chords and triads above the scale, triad qualities, and spelling triads. In addition, they study scale-degree triads - roman numerals, figured bass, and triad inversions. Unit 6 - Triads and Seventh Chords In this unit students continue to study triads and also learn about seventh chords. They investigate seventh chords in major and minor keys, seventh chord inversions, uncommon seventh chords, and spelling seventh chords. Unit 7 - Counterpoint - Connecting Melodic and Harmonic Intervals In this unit students learn about counterpoint. They discuss connecting melodic intervals, labeling harmonic intervals, consonant and dissonant harmonic intervals, note-to-note counterpoint in strict style, invertible counterpoint, motives, and ground bass. Unit 8 - Establishing the Two-Voice Composition In this unit students learn to compose with two voices. They learn second-species counterpoint with non-chord tones, how to write second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-species counterpoint. They also learn to listen for the rondo form. Unit 9 - Eighteenth Century Counterpoint In this unit students study 18th century counterpoint, beginning with contrapuntal motion. They learn about chordal dissonance, bass and melodic lines, writing with a given line, and non-chord tones, or embellishments. Unit 10 - Four Part Harmony In this unit students begin to understand four-part harmony. They learn to write four-part harmony for SATB and keyboard, as well as basic phrases, and tonic and cadential areas. The study connecting dominant and tonic areas, and harmonizing folk songs. Unit 11 - Dominant Sevenths, Predominant Area, Melody Harmonization In this unit students begin to explore more advanced harmonic devices. They study dominant seventh inversions, expanding the phrase, realizing figured bass, and harmonizing melodies. Unit 12 - Expanding Harmonic Area Continuing with harmony, in this unit students gain understanding of using six-four chords, neighboring six-four, arpeggiating and passing six-four, extending the tonic, and introducing the submediant. Unit 13 - Diatonic Harmonies and Root Progressions Moving on to diatonic harmonies and root progressions, in this unit students investigate additional cadences, root progressions, motion by descending third, and motion by second. They also study mediant triads and parallel six-three chords, and learn to recognize the fugue. Unit 14 - Embellishing Tones (Non-Chord Tones) In this unit students learn about embellishing tones. They study passing tones and neighbor tones, as well as more about suspensions, incomplete and double neighbor tones, and other embellishments. They end this unit with a summary of non-chord tones. Unit 15 - Leading Tones Chords Students use this unit to learn about leading tones chords. They learn to double and resolve the vii°6, the vii°7 and the viiø7, and study these chordes in context. They also study neighboring and passing four-two chords. Unit 16 - Form and Analysis In this unit students explore form and analysis. They learn to do phrase analysis, and learn about smaller segments of phrases, parallel and contrasting periods, extended periods, and the structure and hypermeter of phrase rhythm. Unit 17 - Diatonic Sequences In this unit students become familiar with diatonic sequences, first gaining understanding of that a sequence is, then moving on to descending-fifth sequences, descending-third sequences, and sequences based on seconds. They finish up the unit by studying sequences in musical context. Unit 18 - Secondary Dominants and Leading-Tone Chords to V In this unit students focus on dominants. They learn about intensifying the dominant, modulation and tonicization, writing and resolving V/V to V, secondary leading tones to V, and secondary chords in dominant expansions. Unit 19 - Tonicizing Other Scale Degrees In this unit students explore secondary chords in basic phrases and secondary chord in musical contexts.  They also learn about spelling secondary chords, resolving secondary chords, and modulations. Unit 20 - Preparing for the AP Test In this unit students prepare for taking the AP Music Theory test. They cover Section I, parts A and B, as well as Section II, Part A (aural stimulus), Part A (no aural stimulus), and Part B (sight-singing).